Faith that Saves the Soul (Part 2)
Andrew Giles at Bradford, Maine
July 8, 2009
I started to share some things yesterday and I didn’t go very far into them but they made me know where I should go to tonight. We were talking about faith to the saving of the soul and I want to talk about the soul tonight. I expect you have heard people speak about the soul before. I believe that we are a lot more complicated, or a lot more ‘intricately made’, than any one preacher can fully express, so I’m really adding my two cents worth—which I hope isn’t mine—to our understanding of a big subject.
I was sharing yesterday about the scripture in I Peter where it says, “the end of our faith is the saving of our soul”. I explained to you the word “end” is not the finality or the conclusion, but it’s the “purpose” or the “goal”. So we, as those who have been apprehended by Christ Jesus, now have a process that is going on that is a salvation process, which is to get our soul saved. That should be a significant purpose of our daily life. It shouldn’t be that we are purposeless day by day when things happen to us and before you know, “that’s another day gone”, but our days should be filled with purpose. We need to have taken on board in our understanding of what this life’s about and what this period of time is about that God has committed into our hands, however long or short it may be, that we are here during this time with a purpose of getting our soul saved. That is why God has drawn us this far.
You know already that Ephesians 2 tells us that we have been “quickened”; we were dead and we’ve been quickened. It’s our spirit that was quickened and I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a moment. That’s already accomplished; whether it stays quickened is another matter; whether we stay quickened hasn’t been concluded. Our spirit is alive because of the touch of God upon us and now through the Spirit, we are in the job of saving our souls, which we do not do alone; it’s not something that we can accomplish by gritting our teeth. It’s co-working together with the Lord Himself that gets our soul saved.
It is a purpose in daily life. It’s not just an accident that will happen at the end; it’s a purpose that we take on—the purpose—the goal of our faith is the saving of our soul.
I might take you to quite a few scriptures because I want you to get this from the Book, not from me. At the conclusion of his letter, when Paul is just closing it down, what he has to say at this time to the church in Thessalonica as he blesses them is:
I Thessalonians 5:23 ‘And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
This is a very helpful verse to us as we try to understand what we are. It’s clear from the scripture here that we are comprised of spirit and soul and body; three parts. It’s called the “tripartite view of man” in complicated sounding words, but it’s basically we have three parts.
I suppose you could say, knowing here that we have body, soul, and spirit, “We are at least three parts; how do you know, Brother Andrew, that we are not more than three parts?” We couldn’t be less because three are indicated, but I think that we can also see from this verse that we’re not more than three parts because he says if your body, soul, and spirit are preserved blameless, then you are sanctified wholly. There’s not the possibility of another part because that would also have to be sanctified. It would also be part of us, who don’t start out with any sanctification on us at all, that would also have to be embraced in the process of sanctification. So, if there were a fourth part, the word “wholly” would not be appropriate. We would end up with three out of however many sanctified, but that wouldn’t be “wholly”.
So, we can see that Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is telling you and me that we are comprised of three parts and only three parts; body, soul, and spirit. God has something to do in the whole of each part so that we end up being blameless when He appears.
Let’s go from there to the same writer, Paul, in:
I Corinthians 6:19-20 ‘What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.’
Now you have a question, haven’t you? Well, that’s the question I had, too. When God linked these two verses together, I got a question. You know what the question is. What happened to the soul? It’s the same man writing this; it’s not like he doesn’t know or something. He is making a statement here; he says, “Your body and your spirit are God’s.”
Let’s just comment on this first and then we’ll hunt the soul down. This isn’t the only scripture that tells us our body is really God’s. In Psalm 24 he tells us ‘all the earth is mine’; all the earth; and our body is nothing more than earth. When I was a boy, they use to say our body was worth under five shillings. You haven’t even had shillings, but that wouldn’t have been much more in those days than 25 cents when the dollar was really worth something. Even if it were worth $10 now, you can still go and dig up all you’re made of from the garden! But God says, “It’s Mine! All the earth is Mine!” He lays claim to it. He’s says, “I made it. I’ve just lent you a bit of earth as a container for the time being, but it’s Mine!”
Paul says in:
Romans 12:1 ‘I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.’
We’re not giving God something that doesn’t belong to Him; we’re giving something that He has lent to us as stewards, but really that of which He claims ownership. We talk about “my” body, but every time we say that, we are in danger of getting a wrong understanding because my body is not my body! It’s only mine as a steward; it’s not mine as an owner. God says, “My body! It’s Mine!”
The reason He has done it this way is because He’s testing our stewardship. We know perfectly well that with God’s stewardship what He does is He sees if we’ll be faithful in the little before He gives us much. That’s a very sensible way of doing it!
If it had ever been possible, I would never have given my 10-year-old children a million dollars! You don’t do that! What I did was give them a little bit of pocket money. I would give them just a little bit and I would speak to them and I would try to help them in using it. They would say, “Dad, I want some sweets.” And they would also say, “Dad, I want a model car (or whatever).” I would say, “Well, I’m giving you some money; you haven’t got enough for the car, but you have enough for the sweets. If you don’t buy the sweets, in a month’s time you’ll have enough for the car!” You start to teach them things with money and you start with little. God is doing exactly that with us!
What He is giving us at the moment, in terms of our bodies, is not very valuable, but it’s significant. It may not be valuable, but it’s very significant. This is something that God has given to us, which doesn’t belong to us, that is given to test our faithfulness as stewards. Day by day He’s observing; He’s like one who’s gone on a journey to a far country but you know the eyes of the Lord are in every place. He’s watching very carefully to see what we do with that which is His. When He returns, (I don’t believe this is the only talent that is referred to in that story of the stewards. I don’t think that’s the full definition of it)—one of the things He’s going to see is: What have we done with that which He says is Mine? What have we done with our bodies? It’s going to be one of the measures of judgment.
It’s recommended to us that we ‘yield our bodies unto God as instruments of righteousness’— weapons, tools of righteousness. These hands, this mouth, these legs; every part of us is meant to be given over to God as instruments of righteousness. I think the old hymn, “Take My Life and Let it Be”—I don’t know if you know the old hymn that goes through all the different things and giving them over to the Lord—take this and take this—I think it’s good. “Take my lips and let them be filled with messages for Thee. Take my feet and let them run in the paths that You’ve set for me” –that’s yielding our bodies and that’s the test.
The body belongs to the Lord as does also the spirit; God also lays claim to the spirit. There’s a verse at the end of Ecclesiastes. It’s in the last chapter that begins with ‘Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth’. The reason the writer goes on to say that you want to remember your Creator in the days of your youth is that it doesn’t take very long before you die. He goes into a very wordy explanation of death, such as:
Ecclesiastes 12:6 ‘Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.’
He’s really saying, “Get right with God while you’re young because it won’t be long before you snuff it.” That’s the 21st century version.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 ‘Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: (we just talked about that) and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.’
So the dust is going to go back to the earth and God says, “That’s mine.” The spirit is going to go back to God, as it says very clearly. When we see in I Corinthians 6:20 that the body and the spirit are God’s, you can’t do anything to stop God claiming them back. There’s no way in which you’re going to eternally hold on to body and spirit because when you reach that point of physical death, the body goes back to the earth and the spirit goes back to God—and you’re left with the soul.
Just to demonstrate that, do you remember when Stephen died? What did he say? ‘Receive my spirit.’ When Jesus died on the cross, what did He say? ‘Into Thy hands, I commend my spirit.’ The spirit went back to the Father—to the One who gave it.
I’ll talk a little bit more about the spirit in a moment.
I Corinthians 6:20 ‘For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.’
Why does Paul leave out the soul? The soul is the only part of you that you’re going to get to keep. You’re going to keep your soul forever and ever and ever. Now that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t claim rights over your soul. He does claim rights over your soul, but what He has done when He made us is He gave to us and committed to us a soul. You are your soul! Let me show you that in Psalm 42:
Psalm 42:2’ My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: (What thirsts for God? My soul) when shall I come and appear before God?’
This is Hebrew parallelism in poetry; very often you get two statements saying very much the same sort of thing. Maybe one developing the other statement a little, but in their poetry (you can see it all through the psalms), you get two statements which are saying similar things; the second one just reflecting the first one, maybe amplifying it and this is what you get here; these are parallel statements:
Psalm 42:2’ My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?’
The psalmist is saying, “My soul is me. I am my soul.” If you stand in front of the mirror and you do all we can to make yourself look nice, there’s something that you can never do however much you try; however much you go to the gym; however much health food you eat; however much you look after yourself; however many vitamins you take—you cannot make yourself live forever! Your body isn’t going to live forever! Therefore, the saving of our soul is what we should concentrate on. If we have any eternal savvy; any eternal understanding; any real awareness of what this life is about—we’re going to say, “My body is not the important part; my soul is what’s important!”
My dear mother, who I mentioned last night and I’m going to mention her again, she says, “Andrew! You’re doing too much!” And I say, “Mother, if I die 10 years earlier because I’m serving the Lord; running around the world and this and that and if I die 10 years earlier, what have I lost?” I ask you, what have I lost? My earth (body) goes back to the earth a bit quicker, but my soul gets saved in obedience to the Lord, so what have I lost? I don’t lose anything - of course that’s so long as He’s directing me to do the running around. But to try to preserve something that’s going to go anyway is a wrong priority. I haven’t lost anything if my soul is saved because I am really my soul; I am not my body! We need to understand that.
I did this at Whitestone Farm and years ago I did it in a school assembly at home:—I got Arianna DiGloria to come in and I covered her up completely with a bed sheet. I walked her in and I said to Arianna, “Say Good Morning.” She said, “Good Morning.” There was no response from the congregation so I said, “Why didn’t you answer her?” I said to Arianna again, “Say
Good Morning.” She did and they responded, “Good morning!” I told Arianna to ask them how they are, so she said, “How are you today?” and they all said, “Very well, thank you!” All the time I was calling her “Miss Bed Sheet”. I got the whole of the Whitestone Farm talking to a bed sheet! I said to them, “You people are absolutely ridiculous! Do you realize you’re talking to a bed sheet?” Of course, we all had a lot of fun, but the point is, we address each other as if we are our outside part. We assess and we judge one another on the basis of what we see. We judge by the ‘seeing of the eye’ and it’s so false because we are not what we see on the outside. Of course, there may be some signs and some reflections—you can tell when somebody isn’t right inside sometimes by the expression on the outside—but so often our judgment is wrong because we are judging just by the external things and the person is not what’s on the outside. The Jews missed Jesus by judging the externals. We are told to ‘know nobody after the flesh’ because that’s not what we are; we are a soul!
Let’s go to Genesis chapter 2. On the way there, I’m going to remind you of a verse in the book of Jeremiah where the Lord is talking about how He’s going to gather His people together in the last days. It’s in Jeremiah 31 and He promises their ‘soul shall be like a watered garden’. Their soul shall be like a watered garden because the soul is like a garden. We teach Genesis 2 and 3 in lots of different ways, but what it really is, is a picture of what took place in the soul. The soul is a garden according to scripture.
It so often happens that I ask questions about what’s in the Bible and I was reading about the four rivers here in Genesis chapter 2, so I went to see if there was anything interesting on the internet about the four rivers. I read the most ridiculous thing written by a man who was saying that some people think the Garden of Eden was in Africa; some people think it was in America; some people think it was at the North Pole; some at the South Pole; some people think it was Turkey or Arabia; some people think it was in Babylon; some think it was in the third heaven; some people think it was on the moon, and so it went for a long time like this. Some people, it said, even think it should be spiritually understood! I put my hand up and said that I think should be spiritually understood.
It doesn’t matter whether or not man ever finds the Garden of Eden or whether he ever works out where it was; it may have been in the Mesopotamian Basin; I don’t know where it was, but this is talking to us, not about something that happened 6,000 years ago. This Bible is so relevant to you and me today and this is talking about the soul of man—this garden is the soul. I’m not arguing with the fact that this story actually took place historically but this is really talking about the soul because the scripture tells us that a good soul—a soul that God has gathered and restored—is like a watered garden. One that He hasn’t gathered and restored, I want to suggest to you is like a desert.
Genesis 2:7-8(a) ‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden…’
He’s immediately saying this is a living soul and He immediately goes to the picture. So having said, ‘he’s made a living soul’, His next statement is that it’s like Me planting a garden.
Genesis 2:8(a) ‘And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden;
This tells you that when God made man, uncorrupted though he was, he still had a journey that he had to complete. The fact that he was a living soul didn’t mean he had come to the end of the journey; he had only just started the journey. The garden was eastward—on the east side of Eden—and he needed to get to the west to complete it.
Genesis 2:8(b) ‘and there he put the man whom he had formed.’
Where did He put the man? He put him in the garden. What is the garden? The soul is the garden. You are in your soul! That’s the point I’m trying to make. You are a soul! You are not a body, you are a soul and you get to keep your soul forever. So although God lays a claim to our body and our spirit in a very special way in that He’s going to take them back, the soul that He has given to you and me, which has definitely come from Him, He still says we need to be stewards of, He’s never actually going to take it back; never ever take it back. You continue forever in your soul.
The purpose of your faith is to get your soul saved. That’s all you’re ever going to keep out of what you’ve got now! James talks about ‘whoever saves the soul from death shall cover a multitude of sins’. So the soul’s salvation is from death.
It just occurred to me as I was teaching this at home that there are people who are contemplating suicide and they say, “I’m going to end it all.” That’s a lie from the pit; you can never end it all. It’s not possible to end it all; you take your soul with you and it’s the soul that’s got all the problems. There’s no release by suicide, in fact there’s just another problem added to the stash of burdens that the soul has. I didn’t know when I was saying this that the recording was going to go out to somebody who was contemplating suicide. Their testimony is that when that voice comes to her, and I know the lady quite well, she keeps remembering it’s not going to solve anything. So I bless God for that little extra thing.
I went through the Reader’s Digest one time so that I could see—and I knew what the answer was going to be, but I wanted to see how “body” focused mankind is. So I went through the advertisements in Reader’s Digest, a very middle-of-the-road publication; I didn’t go to anything like National Enquirer or I don’t know what else; there’s other stuff out there. I thought this was a fairly steady, good publication. I added up the advertisements and 36 to 1 was the percentage that was selling things for the body rather than the soul. There were two advertisements that were to do with education—learn a language—and I said that wasn’t body; that was soul—that’s to do with the mind, but 36 of them were things like a chair lift to get you up the stairs more easily or a holiday to lie on the beach; foods and vitamins and cures for this and that. The world is focused on the body and we need to be a people who are focused on the soul because our purpose is the salvation of our soul.
Let’s just backtrack slightly then because I want to say a little bit more about the spirit. We all know what the body is, but because the spirit does not have tangible existence but intangible existence, we may not be quite so clear what it is.
This is my definition; that doesn’t mean that it’s complete. You’ll have to judge it. But I have defined the spirit as that part of a person that receives from, hears, and connects with the invisible realm. The spirit is that part of a person that can make connection with the invisible realm.
So everybody according to Thessalonians has body, soul, and spirit. God wants to sanctify them all. Everybody can make connection with the spiritual realm because everybody who is alive on planet Earth has body, soul, and spirit.
Everybody has a soul and a spirit. The soul receives all the time, instructions; it receives instructions from the spirit. You are getting instructions from your spirit. The reason you are getting instructions from your spirit is that your spirit has “antennas.” Your spirit is like a “receiver” that receives from the spirit realm. There’s more than one voice in the spirit realm; there are obviously spirits of darkness and the Spirit of light, so I have shown two “antennas” because your spirit can receive from the spirits of darkness, which obviously are demons, and your spirit can also receive from the Lord.
So here we are in the Garden of Eden—man hasn’t fallen at this stage. When Adam was in the garden, it was very clear that he could receive through both antennas; both of them were receiving a signal.
Genesis 3:8 ‘And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:’
We find that walking in the garden in the cool of the day was not God, but the voice of God. I don’t know that they had any particular theophany any more than you or me —there wasn’t a manifestation of a person—God is a Spirit— so it was the voice of God as they walked in the garden—as they had their soul there—and they were just communing within themselves; God was able to speak into their soul. He can speak Spirit to spirit and the spirit sends down into the soul the instructions. His Spirit passes instructions to our soul.
I think God intended that He would be the supplier of instructions to Adam. He had given a job to Adam that was far more than Adam ever knew how to do. God made creation and He told Adam to look after it! Where did he go for help? “The camel—how do I look after the camel? I’ll look in a book; oh, there are no books. I’ll check on the internet; oh, there is no internet. I’ll ask my father.” The only Father he had was God, so God did not intend for Adam to do the job of caring for the garden apart from Him. He intended that Adam would care for the creation by getting instructions all the time from God. It was a job that was impossible for Adam!
In exactly the same way—the garden that we are—the care of it is beyond us! I do not know how to save my own soul! I don’t know the needs that are in my soul! I don’t know myself that well; it’s God who knows me! A man deceives his own self! I can get confused between right and wrong! God wants to tell me and give me instructions. He wants to walk with me in my garden!
Equally, if you look at chapter 3, you find everything that’s talked about the serpent is a voice. We have all these pictures in the children’s books of a tree there with a snake and the serpent comes just out of the lowest branch and there it is with the forked-tongue coming out of its mouth and there’s an apple there and Eve, but all that’s mentioned of the serpent in chapter 3 is his voice!
God wanted to have a relationship with Adam where, by His spirit to Adam’s spirit, He could speak—and the spirit would tell the soul. What God has spoken is encapsulated in thoughts and it comes to the soul and the soul thinks it, receives it, and processes it. In exactly the same way, we find the devil’s words can also be thought, received and processed.
God made man with the ability to hear and make connection through his spirit with the invisible realm. The spirit did that; it was a beautiful arrangement. Of course in addition, there was information that was coming into the soul through the senses, so there was other stuff too. Let’s say for example in Adam’s situation, Adam would say, “God, there’s a camel here! I don’t know how to look after a camel; what do I do?” So he got some information through the senses into his soul and he was able to communicate back again through the spirit to the Lord and ask his questions and share his needs—“I’m lonely, Lord. Would you make a help-meet for me?” and that sort of thing. He was able to commune together by the spirit. That was how God made us.
When you get instructions and information, there is some output, which is thoughts and actions and opinions and all the things that come out of us—feelings, choices—they’re the result of instruction and information.
Everything went well until Adam disobeyed the instructions that God was giving him. In the day that happened, Adam’s connection (his antenna) with God was disconnected. Adam could no longer have fellowship with the Lord; it was cut off.
He would have been locked forever in that situation, if God hadn’t intervened, where the only instructions that he would receive were instructions from the realm of darkness.
Ephesians 2:1-3 ‘And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation (that word means “the way we live”) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.’
Everybody walked according to the prince of the power of the air. Why? Because that’s the only place you can get instructions from. People don’t know it’s happening, but everybody—this whole world—lies in the power of the wicked one. This is how he is exerting his power—by speaking into the spirits of men who are cut off from God. They have no other source of instruction. They have no other source of wisdom, except the wisdom that comes from the devil who is the sum of wisdom. He is very wise; he really is wise. He has this whole world and every member of it in his power, except for a few and I hope we’re part of the few.
Even the apostle Paul himself said, ‘We all had our conversation this way in times past.’ You can protest all you like, but outside of Christ, you are devil-driven. You might have been nice, but you were devil-driven. It’s black and white. There’s nobody who isn’t under the control of that spirit. The sad thing about that situation is anybody in it is helpless; you can’t do anything about it. In fact, because deception is a big part of this, people don’t even know it’s happening. The devil is very happy to let us move in what we think is the wisdom of men, which men think is very wonderful, but it isn’t the wisdom of men at all, it’s demonic.
Men confuse activity with life and they think they’re alive because they are doing things; because they’re thinking things. They think they’re in control when actually, they are dead in trespasses and sins and operating as most of this world does in a totally demonic control. Their souls are dead. Dead isn’t the lack of activity; dead isn’t the lack of thinking processes. It’s not like the doctors say, “Brain dead is dead.” Dead is when the antenna is missing—the connection between God’s Spirit and our spirit is cut off. We are cut off from the life of God through the ignorance that’s in us.
Job 32:7-8 ‘I (Elihu) said, Days (Age) should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.’
Understanding and inspiration come when linked into the Almighty and He speaks into the spirit. Communication to man’s spirit by God is a life-giver.
We were stuck in this—being cut-off from the life of God. Do you know what this is? This is a foretaste of hell—this is a foretaste of hell. Initially this is experienced by a person inside his body, but when God takes the body back to Himself and the spirit is permanently cut off from life, (because God’s taken His spirit back,) there’s no future for a person except for his soul being cut-off from the life of God. God knew how awful that would be. In His mercy, He said, “I’ve got to do something to give man an opportunity to get back into life because this is so, so awful.”
Isaiah 66:24 ‘And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.’
God’s talking here, I believe, about the lake of fire. He’s saying ‘their worm shall not die.’ This worm isn’t an earthworm. It is more like a maggot or a larva and it’s that which would have the potential to become a butterfly. That’s the sort of worm it is—a maggot or something that would metamorphose into a more beautiful creature. What happens to these people is they stay as a worm.
Brother Buddy has shared this and I think he is absolutely right; he says that the worm is a picture of the soul. It’s never going to die. Such people just stay forever in this awful state of having no life of God in them. Everything that they produce is only evil continually; there’s no hope outside of that and it’s forever and ever and ever. It would have been like that for us, but for the mercy of God. We would have been forever frozen in a state of our soul going on forever and ever with no life. No ability to hear God; no future; no hope.
One of the things about the soul is when the body dies, the soul just carries on unchanged; I don’t see any reason why it should change; the worm just continues and continues and continues and continues. So all the things that go on inside your soul that are not of God continue to go on forever and ever. These poor people—let’s say this sister who was thinking of suicide. She has all these hurts and pains from abuse; she’s got all the regrets and all the hatred; all the looking back in anger; all the worries, all the fears and all the guilt that have got into her soul. She says, “I want to end it all; I can’t face it anymore.” So she adds yet another sin to it and she goes to the other side of physical death and all of that stuff is still there plus the guilt of taking her own life. She would be locked in that for eternity because the worm never dies!
I’m so grateful to God that He’s given us the opportunity for a different future—the salvation of our soul. It’s mercy! What He did when He came to us in mercy and grace was He quite simply put back the antenna—the connection. Nothing more complicated, if you like, than that—the ability once again to hear the voice of God.
Jesus said ‘the day is coming when the dead shall hear the voice of God and live.’ Without that antenna—that connection, this is a dead man. What Jesus did was He came and He quickened our spirit because the Word of God gives life. This is a spirit-word; it gives life to us. He turned our spirit back into a receiver that could not only hear from the devil, it can hear from God as well. You can hear both. Of course, the devil therefore, has to do a good job in trying to disguise himself.
I have sons who can imitate—Simeon especially. He’s always protested that he never imitates me because I’ve asked him to do it and he says, “I can’t imitate you. I’m too like you.” He can do just about anyone. We get our visitors to write their names in a Visitors Book and the boys go through the Visitors Book and they read the names and the comments in the accent and the voice of the people who come. It’s fun. Last convention they did a play and Simeon imitated me, so now I know he does me.
The devil is a great imitator. I’m not suggesting that Simeon is a devil. (laughter) The devil is a great imitator. Some years ago, I had a few of the young boys in a tent in the garden and we were pretending to camp. It was a summer evening and they had all gone into the tent to go off to sleep eventually; they were all chattering away. I was outside and there was a gate there and I could see up from the gate across our land and up to the house and I heard a voice that said to me, “Your work is finished here; it’s time to leave.” I hadn’t been thinking about it at all. It sounded so clean and so pure; it sounded just like God.
That was about 15 years ago, I think. I went back and said to Kathy, “I heard God say to me that we are finished here and we need to leave.” She said, “Really?” I said, “I’m going to share it with the other elders.” She said, “OK.” So, I went to our next elder’s meeting and said, “I heard God say something to me the other day that our time here is finished and it’s time for us to leave.” You talk about lack of witness; a lead balloon would have flown higher! It was the devil; I know now, it was the devil. It was so sweet; it sounded just so nice and it was a lovely summer evening and the sunset was there and the birds were singing their goodnight song and the devil just came and said, “Leave.” It wasn’t God; I know now it wasn’t God and I’ve learned so much about how sweet he can sound. But for the corporate witness, I don’t know where I’d be today; I was saved by the people of God! The devil will do the same to us all the time; that’s the only way he is going to work this because if there’s a people who are committed to God, he’s got to try and sound like God; sound like an angel of light!
Thank God for the body of Christ! There are various tests: the prophetic ministry, the witness of the brethren, - and time actually. ‘Don’t rush’ is also a good check; see if the witness is still there a few days down the road.
We’re in this situation because God has restored our antenna. He has given us once again a hearing ear. I expect you know the first sense that a baby in the womb has is hearing. Mothers are encouraged to be careful what sound there is around their babies. Praise is a good sound to surround babies in the womb; they can hear it. The last sense to go in a person who is dying is hearing, so the doctors will tell you, “Keep talking, keep singing, keep speaking to the one who is in the transition because they can hear.” Everything else may seem to have shut down, but they can hear.
What God did to us when we came to Christ was He quickened our spirit; He gave life to our spirit and enabled us to hear His voice again.
One other little thing—Parents do not give souls to their children. The soul is a gift that comes from God. You don’t make a soul by procreation. You make a body by procreation and then only if God blesses with fruitfulness. Perhaps you’ve heard or you know that some young people might kick against things and they say to their parents, “I’m only in this community because you’re here!” That is a lie! You see what happened right back there in the beginning when God was anticipating the creation He was going to make and who He was going to make, was that He knew the souls of every individual and He said, “Now where would be the best place to plant the soul of “Brother Ken”; where would be the best place to plant the soul of “Brother Luke? I know where I’ll put that soul, I’ll put it in a body that’s the product of a union between that couple.” And the soul—because we really are souls—the soul does not come by physical union. The soul comes because God chooses to take that immortal soul and put it inside a particular body. So God chose that person should be placed in the fruit of that union; and therefore, live in that place.
We have no power as physical mortal people to make souls; God does that. He puts the soul inside a body that is the fruit of the union. He has determined that from the beginning. Nobody is where he or she is except by the will of God; it’s not the will of man. I think that’s important. That’s also important to the parents because they have no ownership. We do not own our children; we are stewards of our children because the children are really a soul; they are not a body. We didn’t produce the soul; we produce the body and therefore, they belong to the Lord.
The Bible tells us in the book of Romans chapter 7; let’s go there. I want to talk about the re-establishment of this “antenna”—hearing relationship with God.
Romans 7:14 ‘For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.’
Sold under sin—when Adam sinned, he did a business transaction. In fact really, anytime anybody sins they are part of a transaction. Adam did a business transaction because there was a temptation there and he did an exchange. He exchanged his hearing relationship with God for a temporal and very minimal pleasure. He sold out all his seed in a moment in time causing them to lose a hearing relationship with God because he wanted to satisfy his flesh just for a moment. We’ve all done that so we can’t feel too mad about Adam. He sold the human race under sin. It was a transaction that was one of the poorest transactions that has ever been done. There’s crazy things being done economically, but you cannot find a worse transaction than the one Adam did in the garden. He sold the whole human race under sin; he caused every one of his seed to have no ability to have a hearing relationship with God. Isaiah says, “You were sold for naught.” (Isaiah 52:3) A bite of an apple; God says it’s nothing. You sold out for nothing. You cannot find a worst transaction than that.
You may think sometimes you’ve been ripped off, when you go out and do a deal, but you’ve never been ripped off like Adam got ripped off. The serpent came to him and said, “All these kingdoms will I give you” as it were and he got nothing. He traded with a con man; he didn’t get anything, but sold everything. He gave away all and got nothing, but it was a legitimate transaction. A contract requires two parties; legally, there are several things required in a contract, but one of them is that there has to be an offer and there has to be acceptance; so the two sides agree. The devil made an offer and Adam accepted; there was agreement and they shook hands on it, as it were, and the transaction was done. The whole human race was sold under sin for nothing; ‘you were sold for naught’.
So since we were sold under a legal transaction, if we are going to be restored again—if we’re going to be redeemed—there has to be a proper legal process that’s gone through. We were sold in a transaction; selling is a transaction word; it’s a business word. There has to be a buying back, which is what the Bible calls “redemption”. Well, what do you have to pay for a soul? The Bible says, ‘What shall a man give in exchange for a soul?’ What’s the exchange? What’s the currency for a soul? We’re talking about a legal transaction. Under the law, the way things work is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. So what do you give for a soul? You have to have a soul for a soul! That’s the only possible transaction; dollars won’t do it! The fruit of the ground like Cain brought won’t do it!
The only thing you can get a soul back with is a soul. There’s the devil and he has rightful ownership of every man, woman, and child and if they’re going to be bought back—the only thing that could be used to buy the soul back is a soul. Nothing else would be legal tender; nothing else would be the right currency.
Which soul then is it going to be? Could it be my soul? No, because I’m already in his (the devil’s) ownership! You could look up and down the place of the earth; everybody was the seed of Adam and everybody was sold in the initial transaction. The devil isn’t as stupid as Adam was. If you go along to the devil and say, “Hey, I’m willing to give my soul to buy back the human race,” he would say, “Well, that’s ridiculous because I own you anyway! I’m not taking that currency!” It had to be the soul of a man who was not like all of the rest. That was quite a problem because there wasn’t one because he owned the whole lot—sold for nothing and nobody available to pay the price to buy us back.
Well you know what happened. When Jesus died on the cross, it wasn’t really the gift of His body that we saw—although, of course, there was the gift of His body—but He couldn’t really give us the gift of His body because He didn’t own His body in the first place. I Corinthians 6:19 tells us that the body is God’s. So when He died on the cross, He was just being a good steward because God said, “That’s what I want You to do with what is Mine.” So it wasn’t His body, really, that bought us back, although it was an amazing act of stewardship.
Isaiah 53:10 ‘Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed,’
It was His soul that was the offering for sin. There had to be a soul because it’s the soul that needs saving! Your body doesn’t need saving! So the gift of His body couldn’t save your soul; there had to be a soul for a soul! The body wasn’t His to give, but God had committed a soul into Jesus Christ—a soul that He had committed to Him forever and Jesus gave it away. It was the most amazing act.
Do you remember in the garden, He said, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful even unto death.” It was the soul that was going through this. When Jesus gave His soul on the cross, He gave everything He had—everything He had because He didn’t have anything else. What else did He have? Everything else is the Lord’s! That was the only thing. God had committed a soul into Him and He said He could keep it forever. Jesus gave on the cross the only thing He had—His soul.
want to say to you—that was the greatest act of faith this world has ever seen. What Jesus was doing when He took sin on Himself was taking the risk that He would join everybody else as disconnected from God forever. His hearing relationship with God—His connection with God—was broken. It was only faith that took Him into it and through it. In the moment when He said, “My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me”, He did not know except by faith that He was ever going to come out of it.
And do you know what happened to Him? He went to hell. That’s right; He went to hell. His soul went to hell. He might have read the Bible; He might have known the promises; He had so mixed faith in with the word of God that He took the “faith risk” of giving everything He had so that you and I could have a hearing relationship restored. He gave everything in faith believing that it was the will of the Father that on the third day He would rise again. He didn’t have 20/20 hindsight vision; He only had faith. He hung on that cross giving His soul and taking sin on Himself and if it wasn’t true that there was a resurrection, He would be in the position that the human race was in—forever in hell.
I think it’s just amazing. I think that this is so incredible that Jesus would take everything that He had and risk it all—give it all. I expect you have read Psalm 16:
Psalm 16:10 ‘For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.’
Jesus had read that, but before He had died there were seven different tests that had come to Jesus. (I’ll take a little diversion here: You know the number of “testing” is 40. Well, what Jesus was doing was giving us all the possibility of becoming the dwelling place of God by the spirit being restored; giving us the possibility of being a holy habitation for the Lord. Jesus in the last week of His life was tempted seven times. The number of testing is 40. Seven times 40 equals 280 and the length of the curtain around the tabernacle is 280 cubits. So, by His standing in the test, He was creating for us an environment where those who will come into the faith can be safe in the house of the Lord.)
One of those tests was from the Sadducees. They came to Him with that ridiculous, made up story about a woman whose husband had died and she hadn’t any children, so his first brother becomes her husband, and then the second, third, until all seven died, and then they asked who her husband would be in the resurrection. Jesus said, “You fools…”. Now understand that Jesus was just hours from the cross and the devil set this up. God permitted it but the devil is behind this and is trying to destroy Jesus’ faith in the word of God that there is a resurrection! Jesus is going into this moment where He’s going to give all that He has; His soul is going to be made an offering for sin and the devil comes along and says, “You don’t believe in the resurrection, do You? What an idiot!” That’s what the devil is trying to say to Him, “You are being foolish by giving Your soul because You’re not going to come out of this alive!”
These tests were very real! But Jesus stood firm and said, “In the resurrection, there’s neither marrying or giving in marriage.
It’s not like that!” He stood in what He had learned from the Father and His faith remained strong. He was building a house for us and by faith we enter in and we’re surrounded by what He did. He went to the cross and He descended into hell trusting that God would raise Him from the dead. As I meditate on that, I think, “Jesus, you are so wonderful that You would do that!”
And He did that, not actually that I might be given eternal security, but He did it so that I could have a hearing relationship with God restored. Hearing His words is where my life comes from. He didn’t say, “OK, Andrew, I’ll make it so that you’re stuck in life forever—whatever you want.” But what He did was He gave me the opportunity; He took be back into the situation that God had made Adam in—and made Jesus in too when He came into the earth—where you could hear both voices and ‘choose this day whom you will serve.’
The Bible then tells us, ‘Hear and your soul will live.’ Not just hear anything, because everyone can hear something; everyone can hear because that’s what the spirit of man is doing all the time; it’s taking input. No, this is hearing the voice of God so that your soul will live—your soul will live. Hear and your soul will live. That’s what this is about. The purpose of these days is the salvation of our soul.
I love the fact that the devil doesn’t understand the Bible; men don’t either, but the devil doesn’t understand the Bible. He knows it; he knows it really well; he can quote it, but he doesn’t have spiritual understanding. It’s a book that has to be spiritually understood. Although, I believe he was trying to get Jesus out of faith, I don’t think he ever really understood what was going to happen in the work on the cross.
The devil repeated a past mistake. When Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den, the devil really could have learned something if he could understand prophesy, types and shadows, and that sort of thing. There was Daniel thrown into the lions’ den by false accusation. In the morning the king comes along and Daniel was still there, as you know, because the angel of the Lord was sent to shut the lions’ mouths. Daniel is brought up out of the lions’ den and he said, “Because innocency was found in me, the lions couldn’t touch me.” If the devil had just understood, he would have known that a few hundred years before the event God was saying what was going to happen later.
I think on resurrection morning after Jesus had been in hell and God said, “There’s another principle that works here. Yes, sure He’s made his soul an offering for sin, but innocency is found in Him.” So Jesus’ trust in the word of God was honored and God raised Him from the dead and my soul has opportunity again. My soul has opportunity; it hasn’t got finality; it has opportunity to hear the voice of God.
I don’t know how to impress this anymore in you. The Bible says, ‘You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ I see this as such an act of grace that He risked His soul for me. It’s so easy for us knowing the end of the story and looking back and saying, “But it all turned out alright in the end.” It’s so easy to think there was nothing to this, but there was an awful lot to this when He gave His soul—made His soul—an offering for sin so that I could have an opportunity for my soul to be saved. I think He did it because His Father knew that an eternity cut off from God was so horrible—so horrible that He wanted to give us an opportunity to get out of it.
The Bible says, “He’s the Redeemer of our soul.” He paid the price for those that Adam had sold out so cheaply. He was the only One who could give a soul. The devil couldn’t decline the deal because it was a valid price to give a soul for a soul—the only Soul who could have been given for my soul and He gave it. Wow!
Now our responsibility is very clear; to listen to the right voice and stay connected to the Life. To hear and to daily seek to hear what God has to say and to put our trust in Him because it’s faith to the saving of the soul. Faith comes by hearing.
So, how are you doing at hearing God? Because that’s how your soul is going to get saved; by the word that He speaks and our response to it our soul is going to get saved—eternally saved.
The soul is the one part of you that you get to keep forever—that you can get to keep forever in the life of God. If we make it clear to God that this is our choice, to hear His words and to do what He says, He’ll give us a body to go with our soul. But, you have to get your soul saved first.
I would like us just to bow and pray and honor and worship the One who gave us so much.
Lord Jesus Christ, we are in awe of You tonight because of what You’ve done for us. The fact that You walked on this earth for 33 ½ years and You didn’t pay heed to the voice of the serpent in that time—though he spoke. Thank You for that, Lord.
Thank You, Lord Jesus for giving us everything that You had that was Your own; making Yourself completely poor—owning nothing—even giving Your soul so that we through Your poverty might be made rich. Thank You for laying down Your relationship with the Father—Your link—Your hearing—Your joining to Him—so that we here could have one.
Thank You, Jesus, for giving Your soul so that our souls could be saved. Father, in the light of Jesus’ grace, we just bow before You and we worship You and we pray that we might not receive the grace of God in vain. That we might not go after some other purpose in our life other than the saving of our soul by hearing and obeying Your voice. Lord, there is nothing more important. There is no greater purpose. Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Lord God.
Thank You for being willing to save our souls. We honor You; we worship You; we thank and praise You, Lord. You are worthy.
(Closed with singing, “I Stand, I Stand, in Awe of You”.)
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Yes, I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God, to Whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You.